Collections Carousel – Webster McDonald, Pitcher for Little Falls Semi-Pro Baseball Team

John Van and Webster McDonald, 1928.

Webster McDonald and John Van came to Little Falls in 1928 to play for the newly organized Little Falls semi-pro baseball team. John Van, catcher for the team, stayed for one season. McDonald, who pitched for the team, stayed for four. Both Van and McDonald had been recruited by John Donaldson, a prominent player for the semi-pro baseball team in Bertha, Minnesota. Donaldson was one of three baseball professionals whose advice was sought by Little Falls enthusiasts on establishing an independent team.

When Webster McDonald came to Little Falls he was fresh from a successful run with the Chicago American Giants, a team he helped win three successive Negro National League titles. McDonald was considered among the best. Described as a right-hander with a “submarine” or underhand style, McDonald got his start in 1918 playing for the Philadelphia Giants, a minor team in his hometown. McDonald, who was born in Delaware on January 1, 1900, grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Before he signed with Little Falls, McDonald played for a variety of other teams including the Madison Stars, Norfolk Stars, Detroit Stars, All-Stars, Lincoln Giants, Richmond Giants and Wilmington Potomacs. While playing for Little Falls, he also played in post season games for several Negro National League teams including the Homestead Grays, American Giants, Philadelphia Hilldales and Baltimore Black Sox. In 1932, after the Little Falls baseball team disbanded, McDonald played for the Washington Pilots. One year later, he moved to the Philadelphia Stars where he stayed for the remainder of his career. After retiring from baseball in 1940, McDonald worked for the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia and later for the U.S. postal service. Webster McDonald died on June 12, 1982, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, following complications from a mugging.

To learn more about baseball history in Morrison County, contact the Morrison County Historical Society (320-632-4007) or stop by the museum.

Little Falls Semi-Pro Baseball Team, 1928. Front Row (L to R): John Van, catcher; Webster McDonald, pitcher; Albin Seifert, utility; Whitey Weidel, short stop; Evans, center field. Back Row (L to R): Earl Wetzel, manager; Wagner, third base; Conrad Sundstrom, right field; Nolan, first base; Joseph Warwa, left field; Frank Cleve, utility; Hollander, second base; Ed Porten, official scorer.



  1. This is great. Thanks for posting it. I just read a great book about 1930s semi-pro town baseball in the Midwest. The book is, Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line, by Tom Dunkel. The book is centered on car dealer Neil Churchill, who assembled a baseball team in Bismarck, North Dakota, that included Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige.

  2. Hi, John – Thanks so much for leaving a comment and for mentioning another resource we and our reader can check for baseball history.

    Mary Warner

  3. What is know of John Van? I have read where it is believed he was forced to leave hastily due to advances he made to a white woman in the stands. Any addition info on him would be greatly appreciated

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